Observer column: 17 September 2021
As ever, a reminder that the virus is still with us and two vaccinations, taking two lateral flow tests a week, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces and keeping our distance from others will help stop the spread of COVID in our town. Let's continue to be kind and considerate and keep each other safe.
It is very difficult now for anyone in our town who relies on private rented accommodation as rents are increasing and are continuing to do so. There is a housing crisis in our town and indeed in our country and not only are people struggling to find suitable rented accommodation but if they manage to find somewhere it is often unaffordable.
We need much more truly affordable housing and a fair rent system so that everyone can have a decent, secure home. The government needs to address this situation urgently with a range of measures. Only they have the power to affect real lasting change and ensure everyone is housed in a home that they can afford. Hastings Borough Council along with many other councils continue to lobby government for these changes.
We are appealing for landlords who have empty properties to let them through the council's social lettings scheme which gives guaranteed rent for three years, even if the property is empty. The council undertakes upkeep and repair and returns the home in its original condition after three years. If you have an empty property, please consider helping to house a local family in need of a safe and secure home. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we head towards the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP (Conference of the Parties) 26 we all realise that the climate emergency needs urgent action. Governments and countries must work together to enact the legislation that is needed and provide the funding to tackle climate change. Post pandemic we must have a green recovery and keep the temperature of our planet under control.
In 2019 Hastings Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency and a target of carbon neutrality for our borough by 2030. We will discuss our latest climate change report at next month's Cabinet meeting. Examples of the work we have done so far include increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points in our town and using funding from the Green Homes Grant to retrofit and support the improvement of local homes reducing energy demand and costs.
We have also set a baseline for the council's greenhouse gas emissions which will enable us to monitor our own emissions. We will continue to work with partners to ensure they are reducing their emissions and are doing all they can to address the climate emergency. We must all work together.
This weekend is the start of Big Green Week celebrating action on climate change and Recycle Week begins on Monday. Both these national events are a time for us all to focus on what we're doing individually to reduce our impact on the environment. You can find some useful links and suggestions on the climate change pages on our website.
The exciting Coastal Currents Festival continues and there are many events happening throughout the town. You can find a link to the full programme on our website. One of the thought-provoking exhibitions is the Tree of Life Event at the Electro Studios Project Space, Seaside Road, where 60 artists draw upon trees to reflect on nature, the human condition, and the fragility of life. Opening times are noon to 5pm, on 18 and 19 September and 25 and 26 September.
This weekend is our lovely Seafood and Wine Festival held on the Stade Open Space where you'll find great music, cooking demos and children's activities and of course delicious food and wine. There will be fewer stallholders and a limit on ticket sales to help prevent overcrowding, hand sanitiser points, a one-way system in place for the main event arena and the entertainment marquee will have no sides. You can find more details on the Visit 1066 website.
Council Leader's column